Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Delivery from Little Star Pizza

A few weeks ago, I had the task of providing dinner for a group of co-workers.  This happens every few months or so when our regular catering is unable to provide our meals.  I've had fun with this task, finding decently suitable takeout food like cold Vietnamese salads and desserts from Miss Saigon and spring rolls from Freshroll.  Or going totally non-standard, and getting a delicious takeout meal from Zare at Fly Trap.  But this time around, I decided to be simple, and go for the most common type of delivery imaginable ... PIZZA!

Of course, I have strong opinions on pizza, like most things, and my favorite place in San Francisco is Little Star ... and they don't deliver.  And my last visit there wasn't that great.  But, if I was getting pizza, I wanted my favorite!

Thus, I was thrilled to discover a service called Caviar, that partners with just a handful of restaurants (generally better than your standard delivery options available through Seamless, Delivery.com, Eat24, etc), including Little Star!  The ordering process is much nicer than any other I've used, with a fully illustrated menu.  They also provide GPS tracking of your delivery and e-mail notifications.  Of course, it comes at a price, a flat rate of $9.99 per order.

The only negative thing I have to say about Caviar is that my pizza and cheesecake came together in the same insulated bag.  Given that pizza should be hot and cheesecake chilled, this wasn't ideal.  The pizza boxes were still hot to the touch, but I definitely wanted to stick my pizza in the toaster oven to warm it up further once it arrived.  The delivery guy was friendly.

Next time I actually get delivery, I'll definitely consider Caviar again, as I greatly prefer their more curated list of restaurants!
Little Star, Deep Dish, Large.  $28.25.
Whenever I go to Little Star, I can never decide which of the "Little Star" or the "Classic" I like best.  I like them both, but my favorite varies from visit to visit.  Tonight, my favorite varied from bite to bite!

I started with the Little Star, a vegetarian pizza of "spinach blended with ricotta and feta, mushrooms, onions, and garlic".

The crust wasn't nearly as crispy as I remember, but I'm guessing that this is due to the fact that it was delivery.  Even once I re-toaster oven warmed it, it still wasn't crisp.  It was hearty though, and I always really enjoy the cornmeal texture and flavor.

Like all of their deep dish pizzas, this is not a light pizza.  Not only is it very thick deep dish, and the slices are huge, but the amount of filling is considerable.  The pizzas all have a very thick layer of mozzarella, then the selected toppings, and then an insane layer of tomato sauce.  In this case, that meant a lot of cheese layers, since our toppings layer also included cheese, so we had the base mozzarella cheese layer, then ricotta/feta layer with the veggies, and then some parmesan sprinkled on top to finish it off.  Eating a few slices of this always causes pain.  But, I never learn.

Anyway, back to the pizza.  The mozzarella layer was fine, nicely melted cheese.  But the part of the Little Star that I always like is the ricotta/feta/spinach blend.  It reminds me of the filling my mom used to make for her stuffed shells.  The mushrooms and onions add a little something more, but for me, it is really all about those first ingredients.

The tomato sauce on top is slightly sweet, and has large chunks of tomato.  I always think the layer of tomato sauce is too thick, masking some of the other flavors in the pizza.  But, then I always want that sauce to sorta dunk/top my crust with.  So I scrape off a little of the tomato sauce (or, just let it fall off, which inevitably happens), and then use it to finish off my crusts.  I guess I'm not really upset about the amount of sauce, but ideally, there would be a little less, but I'd get some extra sauce on the side for dunking purposes :)

Anyway, this was a good pizza.  By the end of the meal, it was my favorite, and of course is one I'll order again.

The $28.25 price is higher than at the restaurant, where it is $24.50.  Still, for such a filling pizza, the price seems fine.
Classic, Deep Dish, Large.  $28.25.
My other favorite pizza at Little Star is the aptly named "Classic".  Made with "sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green bells".

Most elements were pretty much the same as the Little Star, in that the crust wasn't quite as crisp as I remembered, the mozzarella layer was a little too much but well melted, and the tomato sauce on top was again a little too much, but then wanted for my crusts.

What differed is the filling.  In this case, mushrooms, onions, green bell peppers, and sausage.  I was really impressed with the large amount of toppings, that were well distributed.  On my last visit to Little Star, I was unhappy with the fact that my slice only had 2 tiny pieces of sausage on it, this time, that was certainly not the case.  Every bite was loaded up with toppings, which is just how I remember it being back in the glory days.  I'm glad to see my last experience was a fluke!

This was my favorite when I started eating the pizzas, but by the end, I flip-flopped and decided I liked the Little Star more.  But again, a good pizza, and one I'd order again.  The mix of veggies and sausage is, well, classic.  You can't turn it down!

Price was the same as the Little Star, again, a decent price for such a substantial pizza.
Mama's Ricotta Cheesecake.  $6.75/slice.
If you read my previous review of Little Star, you know that I was devastated when they were out of cheesecake, because they made my absolute favorite cheesecake in the whole world.  Well, it gets more traumatic!  Little Star topped making their own cheesecake!!!

They now get their cheesecake from San Francisco Cheesecake Company.  Now, I like SF Cheesecake, and I've reviewed them before.  But, it isn't my darling Little Star cheesecake.  Yes, I like the pizza at Little Star, but I always liked the cheesecake even more than the pizza.  So, even though I like SF Cheesecake, this is still a bit of a tragedy to me.

Anyway.  The location I ordered from had only one kind of cheesecake available, the "Mama's Ricotta Cheesecake".  Apparently their other location has the Vanilla Sour Cream and the Cappuccino.

The "Mama's" is described as "our version of New York cheesecake with rich ricotta, sour cream and a hint of lemon over our graham cracker crust. "  I hadn't ever had this one before, as I tend to go for their more interesting flavors, but I eagerly dug in (ok, I dug in a while later, after I finished digesting all the pizza ... as excited as I was for the cheesecake, I was way, way too full to consider a slice right away!)

It was a good cheesecake, don't me wrong.  The crust wasn't too thick, slightly buttery crumble style.  The cheesecake itself was very creamy, and had a nice tang from the sour cream.  But if I was selecting a cheesecake from SF Cheesecake, I wouldn't pick this flavor, and would go for their amazing butterscotch version instead.  Or one of the fun seasonal ones.  Overall, this was good, and I'll get it again if at Little Star, but I'm still in mourning over the loss of the original Little Star cheesecake.

I had an extra slice and had it the next night.  Cheesecake normally keeps fine for a day, but I really wasn't into it on the second day.  I'm not quite sure why.  The consistency didn't seem quite right, it was too fluffy for me.  Maybe I was just sick of cheesecake?

Like the pizza, the price is higher via Caviar, $6.75 rather than $5.25.  While that price doesn't seem crazy for cheesecake served in a restaurant, it did seem a bit crazy once I realized how much we paid for our 7 slices of cheesecake.  And, in a restaurant, it would be garnished with some sauce and whipped cream.
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